Despite Mica Levi's talents as a composer, she cannot stop Monos from being another example in the dubious genre of pretty-but-vapid, faux-arthouse blockbusters made especially for the festival circuit. It's your typical militaristic, nihilistic crime-ridden South American drama, but now mixed with over-colorized, teenage neo-folk bullshit.
MONOS is fascinating foremost for its taking place literally in a picturesque nowhere instead of in a kind of anywhere ... while remaining steadfastly Colombian. Its temporal regime follows from its spatial: a kind of eternal, inertial diffraction. In brief: post-history, pop culture Id, vacuum. It's a bit like NO EXIT. If hell was once other people, today it would appear to have something to do w/ video games et al.
Comparisons to Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Flies are obvious and point to Monos' flaws. Visually, it's incredibly striking, especially in early foggy stages, displaying the isolation and loneliness of the child soldiers. Later, one can almost feel the intensity of the elements in the forest. But, despite this and a fantastic Mica Levi soundtrack, the film left me cold. Maybe it needed more tension?
Moments of kinetic, propulsive, pure cinema with intoxicating audioscapes and visuals. Exists in the lineage of Apocalypse Now / Heart of Darkness and Beau Travail. It shows how exciting war can be until faced with the real effects. It also has a strong sleeper theme that feels tacked on too strongly and kind of undermines the moody tribalism and moments of transcendency previously in the film. Still a great watch!
A disorientating trip into the heart of darkness right at the very bottom of the Maslow hierarchy in which individual survival becomes an end in itself and the driving force for actions which leave any protagonist with a remaining sense of morality, beyond obedience to whatever authority presents itself, traumatised. The cinematography is extraordinary; the subject is powerful and the performances intense.
Monos is intensive. It stuffs the viewer’s eyes, ears, and mouth full of the mountain desert and the jungle. It shows the magnificient nature as the powerful force and an enemy, but it’s of course also a symbol of the humans’ inner nature, as violent and abrupt as the natural forces. The story combines the innocence of childhood with the brutality of adulthood, a murderous mix of games and assault rifles. Impressive.
Uhlich is not wrong to question the film's engagement with its representation of youth warfare. I was content to bathe in the sensory pleasures which overwhelm; as a cinematic experience Monos might be unrivalled in 2019. Born of mud and blood, it's a feral commitment to experience and lets the shock of its images speak to its politics.